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Parliamentary questions
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27 September 2018
Answer given by Ms Thyssen on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-003353/2018

1. The Merger Regulation(1) empowers the Commission to intervene when mergers are likely to significantly impede effective competition in the internal market. The Commission reviewed and unconditionally approved the acquisition by Bekaert of the tire steel cable business of Pirelli Tires (M.7230) in July 2014 taking account of the competition conditions at the time of the transaction.

Under the EU legal framework, the Commission has no power to review and interfere with internal corporate decisions, such as the transfer of know-how or production processes between Member States several years after the merger, as long as the merged entity does not infringe competition rules.

2. Wage setting mechanisms, including the setting up of a minimum wage(2), are a responsibility of the Member States and social partners. Article 153, paragraph 5 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU explicitly excludes pay from the remits of EU action. The European Pillar of Social Rights, jointly proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, provides an agreed framework towards better working and living conditions in the EU. It sets out principles and rights to support fair labour markets. Its implementation entails full respect of subsidiarity and the division of competences within the Union, also in the wage setting process.

Real wages have been increasing consistently over the last years across Europe. They have been growing faster in low-wage countries, pointing to a continued process convergence.

The Commission supports labour market convergence including with initiatives such as the European Skills Agenda, proposals to ensure fair labour mobility, including the Posting of Workers Directive, and financial support through the European Structural and Investment Funds to foster jobs and growth. The European Semester monitors national policies, also in the labour market.

The 2018 Country Specific Recommendations highlighted the wage setting process, the high tax wedge on labour and the need to strengthen national social dialogue in a number of Member States.

For 2021-2027, the proposed European Globalisation Adjustment Fund would cover any major restructuring affecting more than 250 workers. The future European Labour Authority would provide mediation and facilitate solutions in disputes between national authorities or in cross-border labour market disruptions, such as a restructuring of companies affecting several Member States.

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings.
(2)Not all Member States have a minimum wage.

Last updated: 28 September 2018Legal notice